Fishwrap’s Thomas Reese, SJ, attacks the US Bishops as they meet for not conforming to his agenda

PopeFrancis_sunlightJesuit Thomas Reese, who was sacked from his post as editor of Amerika Magazine by the directive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has a piece today at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) in which he reprimands the US Bishops even while they are meeting in their annual plenary session.

BTW… since the Bishops are meeting (and many of them are reading this on their smart phones as they meet… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, strip the NCR of the word “Catholic” from their title.  

Reese’s comments at Fishwrap, riddled through with tisking and finger-wagging that is simultaneously smarmy and condescending, accuse the US bishops of not conforming enough to how he imagines Pope Francis thinks.

Reese points to the list of issues that the US Bishops approved for their focus.  To wit:

Family and marriage
Religious freedom
Human life and dignity
Vocations and ongoing formation

He contrasts the US Bishops’ points with a list from Francis (that he cooked up in his head). To wit:

A poor church for the poor
The church as a field hospital, a church of mercy and compassion
The practice of synodality at all levels of the church
The end of clericalism and the empowerment of the laity
The promotion of justice and peace and the protection of the environment

Reese pits Francis against the US Bishops.

Reese thinks that the activities of the US bishops should depend on a central point of reference (i.e, the list Reese imagines that Pope Francis might make).

Funny…. I don’t recall Reese getting all excited about Pope Benedict’s priorities as an agenda for the US Bishops.

On the other hand, I now bring to the attention of the readership Francis’ own written thoughts about bishop conferences gleaned from Francis’ own Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium.


16. … It is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound “decentralization”.

I hope you got that.

Pope Francis thinks that bishops can determine for themselves what issues they need to focus on.  Apparently the Pope trusts the bishops more than Reese.


32. … The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position “to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit”. Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.

For Reese, when you change Popes you change theologies.

Either you are a centrist and you want the Pope to run bishops conferences, or you are not and you don’t.

It is beyond dispute that a goal for Pope Francis is decentralization.

Ironically, that doesn’t always set well with liberals, who will use anything they can to brow beat the US Bishops into conforming to their will.

What Reese did at Fishwrap reminds me of what the US nuns did during the debates about ObamaCare.   They wanted to impose their own magisterium – The Magisterium of Nuns – over and against the Bishops.

Behold the Magisterium of Reese.


At any given time the combox over at the Fishwrap is a fever swamp of hatred and invective.   But it is amazing how much the readers over there hate the US bishops.

Dear readers, think before posting and use the Internet Prayer.  A little venting is one thing, the bile you see at Fishwrap is another.

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  1. scotus says:

    Seems like Reese is not the only cleric to be confused:
    In significant floor-bomb, +Blase hits proposed USCCB priorities doc as “too self-referential” – calls for approach reflecting wider “advocacy to the world”

    Is that what’s meant by throwing your rattle out of the pram?

  2. Chatto says:

    “An end to clericalism and an empowerment of the laity.” Sign me up!! I’ve got my Catechism, my black redaction pen, and a box of gags at the ready. Wayward priests and columnists beware! That’s what Fr. Reese meant, right?

  3. Eliane says:

    Reese apparently wants the US bishops to be troops on the ground for the Clinton campaign. Similar to labor unions.

  4. Gerard Plourde says:

    Perhaps Fr. Reese should see what discussions occur under the topics outlined before despairing. It seems to me that Human Life and Dignity could concieveably cover –

    “A poor church for the poor”

    “The church as a field hospital, a church of mercy and compassion” (Could also be addressed under Evangelization)

    “The promotion of justce and peace and protection of the environment”

    Also, as Fr. Z points out, the Conference’s setting out its agenda based on what it perceives as the local needs is an example of synodality at work.

    In the end it is our duty as Catholics to pray that the Holy Spirit guide and direct those in authority as Our Lord promised and to believe in that promise.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    While I get frustrated with bishops many times, the press conferences they are having show the problem they face very well, almost every question was about gay this and gay that. The bishops are in a virtual “squeeze play”.
    Oh! I believe they are praying the Angelus! Oh my. How wonderful. Bishops, please don’t be afraid to be totally Catholic. How we need you to be. Hold the line!

  6. Alanmac says:

    The Jesuits seem to always be going through a crisis. Here we have Fr Reece going way out on a limb, about to get cut off. Recently we had Fr Jim Martin get in one of his regular hand wringing with Ross Douthat.
    Is there not a Jesuit Superior who can rein in these kooks?

  7. iamlucky13 says:

    How can he call for synodality, and then criticize the bishops conference for setting its own agenda, thereby demonstrating synodality?

    “It is beyond dispute that a goal for Pope Francis is decentralization. Ironically, that doesn’t always set well with liberals”

    Yep. He seems to demand they act independently, yet insists they only talk about the 5 things Pope Francis commanded them to talk about, in the list he delivered…oh…wait.

    Moving off on a political tangent, it’s also ironic because “liberalism” in the modern sense has such a strong centralist emphasis, even to the point where individuals are being limited in their health care choices so that the federal government can manage the system the way it sees fit.

  8. benedetta says:

    LOL as to comments 1, 2, and 3!

    This sparks in me a wave of nostalgia for the big 80s give or take when the US Bishops hammered away on the home front on behalf of the agendas of St. John Paul II and all applauded and we overcame a lurching tendency towards secularist totalitarianism in this country which instrumentalized the poor and cheerfully aborted half of them out of existence. Oh wait.

    What’s so wrong with the US Bishops taking a look at religious liberty? How is that not of the synodal mind of walking with our Holy Father Pope Francis? Would this priest indeed prefer that some, just for supporting the very coveted works of mercy and social justice agenda, be harassed and deprived of religious liberty, just for that? He does his own antiCatholic Reporter and others in their circle of friendship no favors by belittling efforts to defend and renew the viability of a basic human right that for some of us have been laboring without, in an allegedly free and civilized country for about a decade now.

  9. LeeF says:

    One can’t blame Reese for his spirit of carpe diem and trying to push for all the libs can get while the getting is good. He probably knows the pendulum will swing back in the next papacy.

    The real question is why he doesn’t walk the walk and request a posting to a back country third-world parish instead of singing to the mostly well-off, mostly-white, Fishwrap nut-job choir.

  10. tioedong says:

    I am an ex missionarywho has worked in poor areas as a doc, so could I put in my two cents on this “Church for the poor”?
    This is preaching to the rich to share their wealth. Fine.
    This translates to rich folks can get a “get out of hell free” card for their sins by giving money or by becoming SJW on facebook. The fact that they support abortion in the US (and take bribes and skim money that is supposed to go to the poor here in the Philippines) can be overlooked because you ‘love” the poor.
    What is not being done: Preaching the gospel to the poor. We become saints in the work of our daily lives, and this is not being preached.
    And it is the Protestant churches who preach the ten commandments and how to do this. And one side effect of this is that these folks are preferred by employees to be hired, and their family life is stable, and there is less alcohol/dru abuse.
    Which is why the up and coming middle classes in South America and the Philippines often change churches.

    [No one is poorer than someone who doesn’t have Christ with the teaching and sacraments of the Catholic Church.]

  11. robtbrown says:

    I take the comments of Fr Reese as yet another of the Jesuit Death Rattles.

  12. acardnal says:

    Robtbrown, if you need a good laugh just “follow” the Tweets of both Thomas Reese SJ and his confrère Fr James Martin SJ.

    Yesterday they were both tweeting about the USCCB ‘ s priorities list not having fighting poverty higher on the list and Reese wondering why the bishops are so concerned about same sex marriage because SCOTUS has already made that issue moot!

  13. taffymycat says:

    what is up with these jesuits? there was a book pub by TAN some time ago about the communist infiltration of the church written by a priest who was one of the infiltrators. forgot the name, but seems like these priests like reece are of that ilk.

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